By AMANDA C. DAVIS
BOARDMAN – Cleanliness and food are two things that should go together, without question. But when dining in the Mahoning Valley, there are a handful of restaurants that get passing grades in one or the other. Some fail on both fronts.
At Fushimi Japanese Restaurant, 840 Boardman-Poland Road, the owners have nailed both. Husband and wife team, Xiao Wang and Annie Li, have turned the space into a beautiful, inviting place that’s both relaxing and modern.
On a recent weekday afternoon, I dined with my friend and co-worker, Michelle French, who has a lot of experience working in restaurants in the area. She noticed right away how clean Fushimi is, calling it “impeccable.” From table to floor, bathrooms to the kitchen, the place was pretty much spotless, and we had not announced our visit ahead of time.
That put us at ease as we sat down to eat lunch in the spacious restaurant that specializes in sushi and hibachi. The owner spent some time giving us a little background first.
Fushimi is his project. His wife concentrates on running their other restaurant, Pho Saigon, 6532 South Avenue, where the focus is on Vietnamese and Chinese specialties. If you haven’t tried a bowl of steaming hot pho, please do so as soon as possible.
OK, back to Fushimi. New ownership, a new menu and a remodel were in order after the previous place, Shangrila Express, closed.
I am not a very adventurous eater when it comes to things that swim. Michelle agreed to tag along and at least try some of the specialties, but stopped short of sushi, saying she can’t get past the texture.
We started with water and tea, and I ordered the chicken and steak hibachi lunch for $11.99. Michelle opted for a bento box with Beef Negimaki and an order of shrimp tempura. Her meal came to $14.
The presentation of both meals was beautiful. The owner said the creativity and detail that goes into presenting his dishes isn’t something learned overnight.
“It takes time and practice,” he said. He explained that he prides himself on every dish that comes out of the kitchen and hopes his patrons realize that he and his staff put a lot of thought into it.
My lunch was delicious. The chicken and steak were cooked perfectly and were accompanied by sautéed vegetables including broccoli, mushrooms, onions and carrots, in a light, flavorful sauce. The fried rice was very good also and the portions were generous.
I also sampled a piece of Michelle’s Beef Negimaki – a favorite for both of us. This thinly sliced beef was wrapped around green onions and grilled. It was full of flavor and expertly cooked.
Michelle said the shrimp tempura was delicious and saved the extras for a friend who couldn’t make the lunch due to work.
The owner really wanted us to sample one of Fushimi’s top dishes – the Strawberry Field Roll, but neither of us was feeling that adventurous. This roll includes shrimp tempura topped with crabmeat, along with a strawberry/avocado eel sauce and honey sauce.
We hear it’s a popular choice for customers, and though the picture of it looked enticing, we took the owner’s word on it.
Michelle called the restaurant “calm” and “inviting,” and said she’ll definitely recommend it to family and friends.
“The presentation of the food was awesome,” she added.
The menu includes appetizers, a sushi bar, soups, salads, kids meals, chicken katsu, fried rice, teriyaki dishes and dessert. Affordable lunch specials include the maki lunch – any two rolls served with miso soup or salad, all for $7.95.
Fushimi, which opened in October, serves up great food in a great atmosphere, seven days a week. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.
Photos courtesy of Fushimi Japanese Restaurant